A BIG LOVE – Therapy dog becomes best friend

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When Amber VanBramer’s grandmother passed away, she had a difficult time deciding if she should bring her 7-year-old son, Khaydin, to the wake.

“My grandfather on the other side of the family passed away last year and I took him,” she said. “It was his first funeral and he took it pretty hard, talking about it all the time afterward and asking, ‘Am I going to die?”‘

But when she walked into her grandmother’s wake at Dwyer Funeral Home on a rainy Friday afternoon with Khaydin and her 3-year-old son, Keyonei, to pay their respects, she and her children weren’t immediately met with death, but instead the wagging tail of a Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Greyce.

The boys immediately lifted the somber mood, asking Greyce’s handler, Jody Tierney, important questions about their new friend, who calmly stood watch over the mourners while Keyonei crawled under her to inspect her furry belly.

“Does he like dog food?” asked the 3-year-old, innocently, while relatives looking on laughed.

It’s not the scene you’d expect at a funeral home, and that’s why when Tierney approached Rob Dwyer Jr., about the possibility of using a certified therapy dog at funeral services, he jumped at the opportunity.

“It’s such a great thing,” said Dwyer, owner of the family owned funeral home at 776 North St. “The dog immediately changes the mood of the room.”

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